Local News

Mission accomplished

SEBRING - Most people have a bucket list of some sort, but Esther Soehner doesn’t have to worry about that anymore. “My bucket’s almost empty,” she smiled. Well almost, except for one thing. Over the last 10 years or so, Soehner has done everything she wanted to do on her bucket list – from riding in a stretch limousine to flying in a small plane. At 93 years of age, the former Ohio school teacher concedes she didn’t think she’d live long enough to say that.
“I feel blessed,” said the spry nonagenarian, who laughingly told her doctor of 27 years: “You stay put. I don’t want to bring in a new doctor.” Soehner has had seriousness illnesses before, but it’s hard to bring down a peppy woman, so she has chugged along, making sure she’s having a good time along the way. “I enjoy life. I’ve had positive attitude,” she said. “If it’s there, you deal with it.” Last week she flew in friend Ron Dearth’s manual, single-engine airplane, coasting over parts of Highlands County on a “beautiful” day where the orange groves looked like a sea of grass. Her fellow residents at Leisure Acres Mobile Home Park were watching for the plane and waved back. Park secretary Pat Tankersley described the 30-year park resident, who has lived in the same house the last three decades, as an “elegant lady.” “She loves to dance; she’s always active,” Tankersley said. Last year Soehner flew in a hot air ballon, hosted as a fundraiser for the Highlands County Boys & Girls Club. She was with three others, including the pilot, as they rode over the county one early morning. Another of her bucket list items was riding the back of a motorcycle. They did that on a three-wheel motorcycle but Soehner also wants to ride a two-wheel bike, and when that’s done, her bucket list will be officially accomplished. At least one of the things on her to-do list happened by accident. About 10 years ago she was coming back from a plane trip and called the Orlando motel where she was staying to come pick her up. “They’ll be there; they’ll be there,” the motel worker told her. Before she knew it, in pulled in a white, stretch limo that had people the driver had picked up at Disney World. Soehner slid right in. Her plane had been delayed, she remembered, and so was her luggage. All she had was a carry-on bag. Ironically, she had stayed at the same motel while flying out and had seen the limo. She had asked a friend who was with her if they’d let her ride it and was told probably not. That didn’t turn out to be the case. Her advice to others is to keep as “active as you probably can.” “Don’t sit and watch the four walls,” she said. Soehner not only keeps physically busy, she works her mind, too. Every day she does two crossword puzzles. Born Feb. 27, 1920, she’s probably seen the biggest changes that have bombarded mankind and maintains the “next generation will not see the changes in my life.” There is one thing, though, that Soehner is leaving the younger generations to enjoy. “I’m computer-illiterate,” she declared. The 93-year-old does not own or use a computer although she uses her cell phone when she is in her car. She has not completely closed the door, though, and has been mulling about buying a tablet. “I might put that on my bucket list,” she grinned.


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